In an ideal world, we’d be exercising 30 minutes (moderately) or 15 minutes intensely 5-7 days per week. We know through research, that the best results in terms of overall health and longevity come from hitting this mark, and yet, this level of regular commitment is more the exception than the rule for most. If we know what is best for us, why do we so often miss the mark?
It’s not about knowledge, motivation nor willpower when it comes to working towards and reaching our goals, but instead, setting realistic outcomes, markers and accountability in addition to consistency, that moves the needle.
Before diving in, I’ll acknowledge there are a lot of reasons we skip workouts now and then. You’re sick. Your partner or kids are sick (and you cannot get away). There has been a minor catastrophe at work. Your sleep has been limited or you have been traveling a lot for work. You overdid your last workout and are on the brink of getting injured. You joined a gym and attended a couple of classes, but haven’t found something that drives you to go back. You like variety and are not finding that in your current routine.
If it’s not listed here, you can add your reason in your response to me!
And yet, just like the health risks of not getting enough activity, there is an issue with getting too much exercise. We need to the time to recover in order for our body to repair, restore and get stronger. It’s the rest from activity that builds fitness, not the other way around! So first off recognize that more is not always better and that over-pushing can lead to injury and burn-out – especially if you are already stressed from your job, family or lack of sleep.
How to find the sweet spot? First, develop a realistic, time-based goal that you can visualize. Think about what is possible once that goal has been achieved and who you will have become as a result. Next, brainstorm all of the ways you can get to that goal. Narrow down that list to 3-5 things that are quick wins you can easily get yourself to do AND that move you in the right direction. Finally, start small.
It’s better to do something than to do nothing. In fact, research backs this up. Doing just 10 minutes of activity a day is better than none when done consistently. This is especially true with those who don’t already do any sort of activity. Exercise helps to mitigate the effects of age-related muscle loss, helps boost mood and improves insulin sensitivity.
Instead of looking at missed workouts, hectic schedules, lack of sleep and family obligations, how might you fit in fitness “snacks” throughout your week? Then give yourself credit for what you DID accomplish.
Here are some ideas to quickly fit in 10 minutes of movement when you think you have no time:
- Walk the dog
- Vacuum the house
- March in place
- Do bodyweight workouts while watching TV. For example do 10 minutes of these exercises repeatedly: 10 squats, 10 jumping jacks, 10 push ups, 10 bicycle crunches.
- Stretch after getting out of bed
- Stretch before getting into bed
- Walk up and down the stairs
The key is to stay consistent. Fitness consistency means that more workouts are completed than missed. Remember that you may not always have 30 minutes, or longer, for a workout. Do what you can with your future self in mind. A little now adds up to achieving your goal instead of constantly re-starting next week, next month, next year.
However, understand that consistency is an aspect of discipline, but it’s not the core feature. Some people can stick to a routine like nobody’s business. Others would be rebelling outright if told they had to “do” their fitness in any kind of uniform way – whether it be the schedule or type of exercise they pursue
It’s commitment to yourself that is the real key. If we’re committed, we’ll do what’s necessary to maintain or improve our fitness .The heart of commitment is a steady focus on where you are going, the person you are becoming.
How do commitment and consistency work out in your fitness routine? Schedule a call to let me know.